Kettering abortion clinic one of 9 in Ohio affected by court ruling

Outside the Women’s Med Center in Kettering Friday morning was a stark contrast of both sides of the abortion issue.

As about 10 people cried, rejoiced and prayed when the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision was released that overturns the constitutional right to abortion, other visitors quietly entered the center that offers abortion services.

Right-to-Life supporter Mary Ann Berning said she was elated when she first heard the news. She said she was finishing her rosary when she heard the news.

“I’m just on cloud nine right now,” Berning said.

She continued, “It’s not my body, my choice. It’s a different body inside of a woman’s body.”

But the Women’s Med Center’s medical director called the decision “heartless and cruel” in a statement to media.

“The effect of this decision will be to regulate women to a subservient position in society, denying them control over their own bodies and future, and forcing many women and their families into a lifetime of poverty,” said Dr. Martin Haskell said the statement.

Haskell did not return calls for questions.

The Women’s Med Center in Kettering is one of nine locations in Ohio where a woman can receive an abortion. Six full-service abortion clinics are open in Ohio, and another three offer only medication abortion services, according to prochoiceohio.org. Medication-based abortion services are performed by taking two medications 48 hours apart to end an early pregnancy. Full-service clinics also offer surgical procedures.

Women’s Med Center, which opened shortly after Roe V. Wade was was decided in 1973, has been fighting to stay open in recent years, after a new law in Ohio required abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a hospital to operate in the state.

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Women’s Med has never been able to get one of these agreements with the two major local health networks — Kettering Health and Premier Health — and instead has been operating under a waiver signed by doctors affiliated with Wright State University.

A later law prohibited doctors affiliated with public universities from signing the waiver, but the law gave 80 days of grace period for the clinic to find a way through the loophole. The clinic was currently fighting a legal battle over that issue to stay open.

Vivian Skovgard, who said she had been opposing abortion since the early 1990s and regularly shows up at the Med Center to pray outside, said the ruling was an important step forward but there was still more to do. She said she hoped the Ohio legislature would pass the Heartbeat Bill, limiting access to abortion in Ohio.

“Because you know, all the years that we’ve been fighting this and hoping. If you follow Roe versus Wade, you know that the Supreme Court is right,” she said. “The decision was very bad when they decided that.”

There were 20,605 induced abortions in Ohio in 2020, according to the latest annual report by Ohio Department of Health.

This includes 19,438 abortions obtained by Ohio residents (94.3%). While there was an increase in 2020, there has been a steady decline in terminations over the last two decades.

The majority of patients - about 59% - who received abortions were in their 20s.

Residents who received an abortion in Ohio were most likely to be Black (48.1%), with white residents not far behind (43.8%).

About 77.4% of patients reported they were not Hispanic while 4.6% reported they were Hispanic, though a significant portion (17.9%) didn’t report either category.

About 86% of women with known marital status who obtained abortions were never married, divorced, or widowed.

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